Greek politicians, sports teams and citizens celebrated the victory of national basketball star Yannis Antetokunmpo in the NBA Finals.
Antetokunmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday to claim their first NBA title in fifty years.
The Greek Freak has 50 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks in a six-game streak to become the first player from his country to win the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in an NBA Finals.
The victory was marked by glee in Milwaukee, but no less than the Athenians who first saw Antetokunmpo show his talent on the basketball court.
One of the first to speak was Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Twitter, calling the forwards of the 26-year-old Bucks “incredible.”
Congratulatory messages were also posted on social media by a number of other senior Greek politicians, including Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
The Greek sports world has also expressed its admiration, from the Greek Olympic Committee to basketball teams such as Olympiacos Piraeus and PAOK Thessaloniki.
In the northern Athenian district of Sepolia, where Antetokunmpo and his brothers grew up, early Wednesday morning, several residents gathered in local bars to watch the sixth game.
Antetokunmpo was born in Athens in 1994 to a family of Nigerian immigrants. He spent nearly two decades of his life without Greek citizenship due to lack of documents.
The basketball star and his brothers were forced to work as street vendors to support the family’s struggling economy.
“From a small apartment in Sepolia to the top of the world,” exclaimed Greek left opposition leader Alexis Tsipras on Facebook.
“Children of two parents who came to Greece in search of a better life and raised their family on principles, values and ideals. It is a great honor for you that you are Greeks. “
Thanasis Antetokunmpo now also plays with the Milwaukee Bucks, but did not play due to quarantine. Meanwhile, another brother of Yannis Costas has just left the Los Angeles Lakers to join the French team Asvel, while Alex Antetokunmpo works at the Catholic University of Mercia in Spain.
“I started playing basketball to help my family,” said Giannis, who hopes to return to Athens this Saturday after winning the championship.
“I tried to help them cope with the problems and problems we faced as children.”
Antetokunmpo joked to Greek reporters on Wednesday that if 100,000 Greek citizens do not come to the airport to meet him, he will not board the plane.